Jonny Bairstow will hand England’s wicketkeeping gloves to Jos Buttler next week – but the more difficult conversation may be trying to convince him to do so permanently.
Bairstow was named in a 14-man England squad to face India in the fourth Test at the Ageas Bowl, while James Vince returned as batting cover for the Yorkshireman, who has a broken finger.
It is understood that injury will prevent Bairstow from keeping wicket, even if he is passed fit to bat as England seek to bounce back from their Trent Bridge trouncing in a Specsavers series they lead 2-1 with two to play.
Buttler took over from Bairstow by necessity mid-match in Nottingham, and England’s white-ball wicketkeeper will stay behind the stumps in Southampton. And coach Trevor Bayliss acknowledges that the man in possession always has it in his own hands to make sure he stays put.
“If that gives someone else another opportunity ... it’s like any injury, if someone comes in and does well, then you have a decision to make,” said Bayliss.
The Australian could then face a test of his man-management skills.
“That’ll be the hard thing, trying to convince Jonny,” Bayliss added.
“If that was the way we went, it would certainly be a deep conversation with someone like that. Jonny’s a reasonable bloke.
“If that’s the way we wanted to go...in the long run, he wants to play Test cricket.
“We know he wants to keep, but there would be a lot of explaining and chatting.”
If that’s the way we wanted to go...in the long run, he wants to play Test cricket. We know he wants to keep, but there would be a lot of explaining and chatting.Trevor Bayliss, on Jonny Bairstow
England have no qualms about deploying Bairstow as a specialist batsman – as he is in white-ball cricket.
“He is a world-class batter, we know that,” said Bayliss.
“I think he has improved his wicketkeeping over the last couple of years. Jos will have to do some hard work as well.
“He’s been keeping a lot in one-day cricket – but keeping 100 overs-a-day can be difficult, day after day, Test after Test.”
Hampshire captain Vince, who won the last of his 13 Test caps to date in Christchurch five months ago, was dropped after a run of unconvincing form when nnational selector Ed Smith announced his first squad against Pakistan at the start of this summer.
The 27-year-old, who has a Test average of just under 25, has had a successful county championship season and while England were struggling against India at Trent Bridge, he hit scores of 147 and 74 in Hampshire’s win over Nottinghamshire at the Ageas Bowl.
“James has been in excellent form for Hampshire in the Specsavers County Championship, with 847 runs at 56.46, including runs that shaped Hampshire’s win against Nottinghamshire,” said Smith.
“His match-winning runs also helped Hampshire win the Royal London Cup this summer.”
Vince’s inclusion sees seamer Jamie Porter step aside, although he remains on standby in case pace-bowling cover is required.
England squad: JE Root (capt), MM Ali, JM Anderson, JM Bairstow, SCJ Broad, JC Buttler (wkt), AN Cook, SM Curran, KK Jennings, OJD Pope, AU Rashid, BA Stokes, JM Vince, CR Woakes.
Ben Stokes will now be available to play as a batsman for Durham in their Vitality Blast T20 quarter-final at home to Sussex.
The England all-rounder was initially ruled out of today’s match at Chester-le-Street after suffering minor discomfort in his left knee during this week’s Trent Bridge Test.
But after his inclusion in England’s squad for next week’s fourth Test against India, Durham have announced that Stokes will be fit to face Sussex after all – although not to bowl in the match.